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Problems with this film:
1) Joseph Fiennes is supposed to be a great leader of men, the last bastion of American authority in a Japanese POW camp. But he's always sick, and the only guy he interacts with is his buddy. He writes his girlfriend that "my love for you is all that makes me strong, and that strength makes the men strong...", but he ignores everyone, and hardly ever gets out of bed!
2) The journey to the camp by the rescue team is drummed up as a glorious, seat-of-your-pants epic. And then suddenly they're just there, no problem. Actually, they set up a base half a mile from the camp and pore leisurely over maps, discussing their plan of attack.
3) The Japanese camp commandant becomes the Terminator at the end, darting out from underneath huts, smirking maniacally.
4) You keep hoping and praying you won't have to hear the letter Joseph Fiennes' girlfriend writes him. Then, at the end, the voice-over of the extraordinarily long, clichéd letter begins---and you realize that God doesn't exist.
5) Benjaminn Bratt as the hard-as-nails platoon leader. You wouldn't follow this man into a Baskin Robbins, let alone a Japanese POW camp.
6) Complete, entire lack of suspense.
Want a good war movie you may not have seen? Try Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory". Leave this mulch-heap alone.
I found this movie totally unwatchable and carelessly produced,
directed, and acted. It struck me as being completely, almost laughably
inauthentic as to time and place, and bordering on farce in its
presentation of Americans and other nationalities who lived and fought
during that time.
If any American soldier as depicted in this film were somehow transported back to Mucci's unit in 1945, he would be seen to be an alien from another planet. American soldiers in 1945 did not look, speak, dress or interact the way the actors in this movie do. Maybe this is some comfort to American audiences with short attention spans and even less education (or exposure, even to recent American history), but it left me wondering if the story of this raid will ever be made into a movie for grown-ups.
No American soldiers looked or talked or interacted in 1945 the way these actors portrayed them; they did not line up and sound off like soldiers in a 21st century Army recruiting ad, and they did not have perfect teeth, perfect hair, and perfect Los Angeles non-accented diction or speech patterns straight out of this year's crop of war films and television dramas.
Those islands were hot and dirty and crawling with bugs, and as far as I know there were no dry-cleaning facilities nearby to keep everyone's uniforms so clean and squared away. Chow was not sufficient to build up and maintain the body types we see in the movie, and I'll bet there weren't any gyms or circuit training equipment nearby either - or "juice" to keep these athlete-soldiers so cut-looking. There was lousy food, worse coffee, lots of heat, lots of bugs and plenty of cigarettes.
Soldiers were scrawny, dirty, and scared most of the time, and to say so takes nothing away from their courage and bravery under fire. But it was simply impossible to suspend belief at any time during this movie because elements (or all) of every scene I was able to watch looked and sounded false and forced.
There've been plenty of very good books about this raid and those Rangers, any one of which is a better investment of time and money than The Great Raid.
This is a movie which fails on all levels: Directing, Actors,
Storyboard, Music, Camera What a waste of money to produce such a
Directing: this is the worst directing I have seen for years; a good story wasted with bad directing, the people whether in the POW camp or in the camp of the ranger supposedly to free the Prisoners of War (POW) are all depressive; as director you show the clash between the two parties, one who are the heroes rescuing others, full of motivation, vs those in the prison - but no, this main theme is wasted.
Actors: James Franco from Spiderman 1+2, bad actor, unclear speaking, uninspired, other actors are either 2nd or 3rd class actors, just bad. With a bad director those figures never deliver anything convincing, those who made the movies have no clue of human behavior in such circumstances they tried to portray. Captains or Ltl, all are portrays with hollow personalities. The prisoners look sad, depressed, but it never touches me, why, because I don't believe them - good actors convince me.
Storyboard: good moments are wasted for nothing, the whole happens at sunset, and then during the dark night - near sunset they rub on the ground toward the POW camp, after the sun has set (not showing the slowness of the actual sunset), all of the sudden it's dark, and people watch of their watches for the start of the raid, the entire suspense of getting closer to the POW camp during sunset is not used to show the challenge in that, neither we are shown really how the troops actually reach the fences, because we just see darkness . . . I rarely have seen such a bad storyboard, where moments to portray depth is wasted, instead banalities are captured on celluloid or digital hard-disk.
Music: it's nice, but it's way too dramatic for the bad performance of the movie, and the music is completely out of sync of what's happening on the screen; heroic music meanwhile the raid is over, but all the prisoners still have to walk to the next village, instead of a sunrise, it's still dark, and the whole situation anything but clear, we hear fanfare - man, I can't believe how misplaced music can be.
Camera: this cameraman I would have fired after 10 mins, this is a blunt beginner, there are no closeups, none, people are seen like from distance, no emotion, no intimacy, that's what the entire movie is lacking, it is not convincing. The camera shows and hovers around where nothing is to be shown, great moments (from the storyboard) are not capture, missed, wasted.
To summarize: this is a bad movie in disguise - and those soldiers whose story should be told are ashamed of such a bad movie supposedly glorify their "raid". This story is worth to be told, but NOT THIS WAY.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe nobody commenting on this movie has read the book "Ghost Soldiers", so they really don't know the TRUE story behind this raid, but this movie was pretty dreadful. Some facts left out or barely addressed: 1)There were several P.O.W. camps liquidated and there was a real urgency to get to this camp quickly. 2) The march to the camp was a great ordeal with Japanese reinforcements growing in the surrounding areas almost hourly. 3)They had no recon of the camp itself and it was the ALAMO SCOUTS who reconned the camp at the last minute with great risks to all of those involved. 4)The raid was postponed 1 day because of said recon (causing great consternation to all involved) 5)There was a turf war brewing among the 2 philipino resistance leaders (both wanted in on the raid) and Musci showed great diplomatic skills in solving this last second problem. 5)The raid itself was a 100 times more harrowing and exciting then what the movie showed, they had to low crawl in daylight up to the wires and was nearly detected by the Japanese several times. 6)The ordeal back after the raid was barely mentioned, few of these prisoners could walk and the enemy was on their tails the whole way back, causing the raiders to doubt their chance even returning. 7)The tears and gratitude of the rescued was so poorly portrayed in the movie. 8)To a man, the Rangers wanted so badly to go and complete this mission, the debt they felt they owed to these prisoners and the emotions they showed at being a part of this great mission was not shown properly. I urge everyone to read the book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am Don, a Filipino. It is not every time that you see a movie where
we Filipinos fight with Americans and at the same time play an
important role. I just hope this film will clear our country of being
called "The sick man of Asia". I just hope that after you watch this
movie, you will see how we fought the Japanese with just our own
ingenuity. Australia and New Zealand has banned Philippines from their
tourist spots thereby contributing to the already ailing Filipino
economy-which gets most of its dollar income from tourists. I guess
this is how their "great" countries repay us for delaying the Japanese
invasion-which could have reached them if the Philippines just caved in
to the Japanese. Have they forgotten that it was because of our raped
Filipino women, impaled children, and beheaded and/or butchered men
were the reasons why they are so "great" now? Foreigners ask us why
can't we rise from our past like the Japanese. We Filipinos usually
just bow down and think solemnly of the past and say to ourselves "How
can we?! When all of our gold were taken by Japan?!". How unjust it is
that the world just treats our country with such disgust when it is the
Philippines who endured the most for them so that they can have the
liberty and abundance that they are enjoying now.
I just want to add a spoiler here. I was so filled with emotion when Capatain Pajota faced the tank with just the submachine gun - knowing the bomb might not work and that he could have been ripped or blown away by the tank rounds. I applaud the people behind this movie for not cutting that part for it is a revelation of the bravery of the Filipino. I could just remember the time when our troops were pulled out of Iraq because two of our fellowmen were hostages. Our president pulled them out. It would create political instability if she did not do so. We are not cowards. We can fight anyone carrying a laser gun with just our fists. We can find Bin Laden and hunt him down with our rangers for days,months even carrying only a tin can for water supply and just using a rusted Enfield or a worn down M1Garand. Our rangers in Mindanao battle the terrorists knowing they will die on that day because of insufficient armor and bullets. The Filipino rangers' only defense is their superb knowledge of the terrain. Our rangers count the trees and even know their location thereby making them immune to traps or landmines. We Filipinos are not cowards. I hope when you watch this film you will have a different view of us. That we deserve the proper respect and acknowledgment. We are the proud Filipino - and we have been fighting foreigners off our land for five hundred years now...and you know what-- we are still fighting foreigners off our land.
It is not because Philippines was backward that's why it was colonized and invaded... it is because the Philippines was colonized and invaded over and over again that's why the Philippines is backward.
My name is Cecilia and being from Manila this film is very personal to me because my grandfather sacrificed his life during WWII. According to eyewitness accounts, he was tied to a post, doused with kerosene and set on fire. I am watching this film to somehow pay tribute to him and those who selflessly gave up their lives to ensure a free and humane future for all of us. I felt though that the film underestimated what we Filipinos really went through during the war. It would have been just to include the other atrocities perpetuated by the Japanese: babies thrown in the air and caught with bayonets, women brutally raped and breasts carved out, or the massacre of approximately 100,000 unarmed and innocent civilians during the battle for the liberation of Manila on the first days of February 1945. Nevertheless, I am grateful for director John Dahl for shedding light on a chapter in our history that many people hardly know about , specially the present generation, The Bataan Death March.
There are some strange things about this film that nobody seems to have
noticed. But before delving into them probably this should be said: to
a certain extent it is a throwback to way films used to be made,
separating itself from the host of films done the last few years.
First of all it is a rah rah picture, not so different from the host of world war two propaganda pictures. It seems to me a more realistic picture, although also nodding towards the rah rah a little was something like Objective Burma. Errol Flynn's captain under the direction of Walsh was the more enjoyable performance.
Somebody mentioned the music as being fine. Not to me. Actually for years now music in films has been so over-hyped and pounding it is bothersome, this film could have been done with a lot less of that. And as for realism, well to have not one soldier use the F word, to anybody in the service, is fantasyland.
Not that I missed it. Glad I didn't have to listen to a lot of swearing, but I had the feeling that Dahl was doing it out of some strange respect to the actual very brave men who made the raid.
Even so, the Raid was fairly well done, but for me the most gripping scenes were with the nurse. And Manila had a very nice feel to it.
All in all no more than a five for this, but I am glad it was made as a reminder of just how price was paid by the men of world war two. And compared to the junk that is made anymore, its a classic.
i love this movie, forget about what the heartless, bad commentaries of movie critics were saying. i admit the movie is not that quiet of "saving private Ryan" but set aside our amusement of gigantic, overly loaded actions, lets consider the wonderful details this film is offering us. not too many people know what had happen to those American and Filipino POW's under the hand of the Japanese. not even many, know where Cabanatuan is and if there's such place and such great stories to tell about heroism and military tactics US military ever known. lets just give the maker's a hand of approval by a SALUTE. i maybe one sided since this film is about the Philippine's, my native land and features the Philippine's premiere actor's and actresses in the which i never would have thought be part of a Hollywood film. but Americans should also be proud of this, because this tells one of the many brave stories ever told about the Americans. with this movie i regain somewhat of my nationalistic side of me, which was losing a bit due to political chaos and a shameful lost of integrity of our leaders in the country, not only speaking of the president but everyone on both sides. i can say this really brought back the love of my country.
In terms of lasting value, I believe The Great Raid is one of the best
films to have graced the screen this year. It's a straightforward war
movie about unsung heroes. The story involves the basic facts of a
Japanese POW camp which was liberated near the end of the Japanese
occupation of the Phillipines. American soldiers and Phillipino
resistance fighters teamed up to chance a daring raid on the heavily
guarded camp. Fictional elements are added to the story, such as a
surprisingly compelling love story, and believable explorations of
friendships among both prisoners and fighters.
The script is good, the acting and editing superb, and the photography is very good. The film is violent, but does not wallow in flying guts and body parts as has been the recent fashion. Nothing flashy, nothing overwhelming, just solid craftsmanship. This is a film which is less concerned with making an impression than it is with telling a story, and I found that very refreshing. In my opinion, the film succeeds completely in telling its simple story and will likely be recognized for years to come as one of the better war films of recent times. All of the acting in this film is excellent, but watch for the standout performances from Marton Csokas, Joseph Fiennes, James Franco and Connie Nielsen.
After the American evacuation of the Philippines following the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbour, thousands of American servicemen were
abandoned to the Japanese enemy, finding themselves facing brutal
conditions in Japanese POW camps, and feeling forgotten by their
country. "The Great Raid" is the portrayal of a rescue mission to save
five hundred of those POWs at the Cabanatuan camp before they're killed
by their captors, as the Americans begin to close in during the closing
days of the war.
As far as I can recall there haven't been very many movies depicting conditions in Japanese POW camps. "Bridge On The River Kwai" springs to mind, but this is the only other one I think I've come across. It's always hard to judge the accuracy of how the enemy is portrayed in a movie like this. In this case, though, we do know that the Japanese were in fact brutal captors. Surrender was the ultimate dishonour, and prisoners, therefore, were seen as deserving of neither honour nor respect. The conditions portrayed in the camp, therefore, were believable and probably historically accurate.
The portrayal of camp conditions is one of the highlights of the movie. The other is the actual raid carried out. It was portrayed in great detail and, again, in a very believable way. The basic problem with this movie, though, is that it repeatedly seems to get bogged down. Frankly, when the movie strays from those two subjects it just isn't that interesting, and all the various sidebars end up making this longer than it needed to be. The character of Margaret Utinski (played by Connie Nielsen) was especially problematic. Utinski was a real person - and a winner of the Medal of Honour - but there are historical questions about her life, and there was certainly no romance involved in her actions, as is suggested throughout the movie.
Aside from Nielsen, the cast were fine, but in all honesty no one stood out to me as outstanding. As I've suggested, there are certainly aspects of this movie that make it worthwhile viewing, but it certainly can't be mistaken for a masterpiece. (6/10)
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